There are no legal hurdles in expanding the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and expansion talks will be discussed in the near future with a decision possibly being announced at the summit of SCO and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in Russia over the summer, the SCO’s Secretary General Dmitry Mezentsev told TASS news agency on Tuesday ahead of the X session of the SCO Forum being held on March 11-12.
The legal aspect of expanding the SCO has been coordinated and now a political decision will need to be made by the leaders of SCO member-countries, Mezentsev explained.
“The issue of expanding SCO will be discussed in the nearest future,” Mezentsev said. “There are no legal hurdles or inconsistencies in the organization for that.”
At last year’s summit in Tajikistan “two historic documents were signed which fully outline the legal aspects of expanding SCO,” Mezentsev reminded. In particular, a new memorandum on granting a full-fledged SCO membership and accepting new members was adopted.
“Considering the procedure of launching accession [to SCO], it may only be started after leaders of the SCO member-countries take a political decision,” Mezentsev said.
India, Mongolia, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan currently hold observer status with the SCO.
Syria recently filed an application in February for observer status at the SCO.
In February, the Russian Ambassador to China, Andrey Denisov, said that the accession process of India, Pakistan, and Iran to join the SCO could start this year.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently said that the matter of India and Pakistan’s accession to the SCO would be high on the agenda at the summit of SCO and BRICS.
“Corresponding criteria for candidates for accession were approved at last year’s summit. We will have to review applications from a number of countries, including India and Pakistan,” Lavrov said.
Lavrov noted that Iran had also filed an application for accession to SCO.
“I hope that progress in the settlement of the Iranian nuclear program will help consider it [the application],” he stressed.
“I hope, and there are all reasons for that, that a political decision will be made in Ufa on launching the expansion process,” Lavrov said. “We share the understanding with Chinese colleagues and other SCO members on this issue.”
Earlier this month the Chairman of the Russian State Duma, Sergey Naryshkin, said that Moscow will make every effort to ensure India gets full membership in the SCO.
The summit of SCO and BRICS is set to take place in Ufa – the capital city of the Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia – on July 8-10, 2015.